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Who? What? When? Where? Why? Questions to Ask BEFORE Asking “How” to Live Your Life

Who? What? When? Where? Why? Questions to Ask BEFORE Asking “How” to Live Your Life

Do you want only simple, specific tips, or something wider and deeper?
Worried little girl

    It’s a very old journalistic cliché that stories should always contain answers to these six questions: What? Who? Where? When? How? Why? For example, a story about a murder could accomplish all of this in a single sentence: “Jones was murdered in his own home last evening by a neighbor using a shotgun in revenge for Jones’ insults to the neighbor’s wife.”

    It seems to me that more and more articles on the web are leaving aside this pattern to move to the “x simple tips on how to do y” format. There’s nothing wrong with such an approach — indeed, it’s clearly popular — but it implies that you already know the answers to the other five questions. Only the “how?” item remains, since that is all such articles address.

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    In my own experience, this is rarely the case. Most often, people do not know the answers to the other questions. They are either ignored or blithely assumed to be obvious.

    Questions for a New Year
    With a New Year upon us, you may be thinking about resolutions. Will it be enough to address only the “how?” issues? I think that one of the reasons why so many resolutions fail to last beyond January is that they assume you have indeed answered all the other questions, when the reality is that none of them have been tackled.

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    My suggestion is this: that you make sure you ask yourself allthe other questions, deliberately and carefully, before even considering the “how” of anything, whether the ways be simple or not. Try this sequence:

    • What are the issues facing you in your life? Have you thought about them carefully enough to put them into some order of priority, assuming that tackling them all at once is likely to be more than you can handle? Are you clear about exactly what they are? Do you understand them as fully as possible?
    • Why does it matter that you should deal with any of them? Is there something you wish to achieve; or something you think you need to change? What is your purpose in taking action? Are you sure that it is a purpose you truly believe in and can stick with long enough?
    • When should you start? Is now the right time? Are circumstances favorable enough? Would it be better to wait and see how events turn out? Are you in danger of rushing into short-term action when a long-term approach is needed?
    • Where should you begin? Which aspect of the problem or change should be tackled first? Is it the most important or the most pressing, since these typically refer to two aspects of any problem, not one?
    • Whodo you need on your side? Who has to help you — or at least stand aside — if you are going to succeed? Few matters of any real importance can be dealt with without assistance from others.. . . and, finally . . .
    • How should you do it? What is the best approach? What skills or techniques will you need? What can you learn from others’ experiences to assist you?

    Dealing with specifics

    As journalists have found for hundreds of years, all six questions are essential. Missing any of them leaves a gap that must be filled by assumptions or imagination. Just so, relying entirely on “x simple tips on how to do y” is likely to leave you guessing on such key questions as whether it’s worth doing anyway, or worth doing right now.

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    Best of all, the six questions can be adapted easily to cover almost any situation. Considering a change of job or career? Try this sequence:

    • What would suit you better than what you have now?
    • Why do you want to change? Is it a good enough reason?
    • When is the best time to make a move? Should you wait to seek how things turn out in a few months? Is this the right time for your long-term career hopes to make a move?
    • Where might offer you a better position? Another company? Another location? Another type of work altogether?
    • Who else do you need to consider? Partner? Family? Friends? Colleagues? Who might be able to help you or put in a good word with a prospective employer?
    • How should you go about it, taking into account the answers to all the previous questions?

    If you think through the sequence carefully, you’ll not only make a better career moves, you will have already prepared the answers to maybe 90% of interview questions.

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    Avoiding sound-bites and clichés

    Don’t be seduced by attractive sound-bites or simple-sounding, ready-made answers, when what you need are time to consider your situation fully and thoughtful questions to help you do so.

    Don’t jump to trying the “x simple ways” before you have spent sufficient time on deciding what you need to accomplish and why it matters.

    There will be opportunity enough to work on the (purely tactical) “how?” after you have first dealt with the (strategic) issues the other five questions will raise for you. Time spent in reconnaissance, as the saying goes, is never wasted — especially if you want to come out on the winning side.

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    Last Updated on December 9, 2019

    5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

    5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

    Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

    Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

    Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

    1. Get Rationally Optimistic

    Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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    This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

    In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

    The result: no more mental stress.

    2. Unplug

    Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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    How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

    It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

    Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

    3. Easy on the Caffeine

    Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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    Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

    4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

    That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

    How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

    • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
    • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
    • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

    While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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    5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

    This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

    The result: mental stress will be gone!

    So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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    Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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